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The Pacers rebound from a first-round loss with a comeback performance on the road

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Lakeridge quarterback Cooper Justice (shown here against Tualatin) and the Pacers stepped up on Friday, Sept. 13, to beat Clackamas 41-28 at Clackamas High School.What a difference a week makes.

Seven days after getting hammered in its 2019 season opener, the Lakeridge football team came back strong in week two, pulling away from Clackamas in the second half to beat the Cavaliers 41-28 at Clackamas High School.

Given everything that had gone wrong a week earlier — the Pacers fell 53-7 to Three Rivers League foe Tualatin — the win over Clackamas on Friday, Sept. 13, was like a brand new day for Lakeridge.

"It was very big," said Lakeridge's first-year head coach Forrest Sherman, who recorded his first career victory on Friday. "It was very inspirational, very motivating for me to see the team play with such confidence. That had everything to do with it — we were a different team on Friday against Clackamas."

With the win, the eighth-ranked Pacers improved to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in TRL play, while Clackamas fell to 0-1 on the season.

Facing the Cavaliers — a 2018 state semifinalist and the 2017 Class 6A state champion — in its season opener, Lakeridge raced out to 14-0 first-quarter lead, saw the Cavaliers rebound into the lead in the second period, then pulled away in the fourth quarter to win.

"Overall, it was a total transformation for us," Sherman said. "Our attitude and mindset were way better."

The Pacers' defense — led by Ty Glumbik's 10 tackles, eight from Adrian Sandoval and seven each by Tyeson Thomas, Caden Biege-Wetherbee and Keoni Hepa — threw a shutout in the first period and gave the Lakeridge offense time to roll.

Senior quarterback Cooper Justice kicked things off with a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior running back Jalen John, then came through again later in the quarter with a 49-yard scoring strike to senior wide receiver Xander Houck. Along with a pair of extra points by senior kicker Ben Devries, the Pacers led 14-0.

But Clackamas came back strong in the second quarter, with quarterback Austin Atkeson scoring on a 2-yard run and tailback Jake Spitulski adding touchdown runs of 7 yards and 1 yard to give the Cavaliers a short-lived 21-20 lead.

John and his offensive line came up with an answer — and a spectacular one — to put Lakeridge up 27-21 at halftime, with John breaking free for a 71-yard TD run.

After a scoreless third quarter, Lakeridge added to its lead when John fumbled at the end of an 8-yard run into the end zone and Hepa jumped on the loose ball for the Pacers to extend Lakeridge's lead to 35-21.

Clackamas' Blaine Cyphers kept the Cavaliers' hopes alive with a 1-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 35-28 later in the fourth, but John answered with a 38-yard TD for the Pacers that put the game away.

The Lakeridge line — led by Hepa, senior T.J. Jakmauh, senior Eric Reilly and senior Kai Tinker on offense, and by Hepa, Sandoval and Jakmauh on defense — was solid all night long.

"Our offensive line was great, but the defensive line played with more passion and flew around more than the week before," Sherman said.

For the game, John broke free for 345 yards and four TDs on 24 carries, Justice hit on 9 of 16 throws for 151 yards and two scores, while Houck made two catches for 64 yards and one score, and senior Bryson Corbin made four catches for 56 yards.

For Clackamas, Atkeson completed 17 of 30 passes for 291 yards with one interception, with Miles Williams making five catches for 93 yards, while Spitulski ran 16 times for 79 yards and two scores.

Next up, Lakeridge will host Sherwood (2-0 overall) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20.

Contact Sports Editor Miles Vance at 503-330-0127 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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